Medicare: What is it?

Medicare is a national health care program that provides medical coverage to U.S. residents over the age of 65 years. Those under the age of 65 with certain disabilities and individuals with end-stage renal (kidney) failure may also qualify for Medicare benefits. The enrollment process is automatically initiated at the age of 65 years and consists of two parts, Part A and Part B.

Here is a video created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that explains the benefits seniors receive from Medicare:

Medicare Part A

Part A provides insurance for inpatient hospital stays, skilled nursing care, home health care services and hospice services. There is no premium required to receive benefits covered under Part A.

  • In-Patient Hospital Stays – Covered services include a semi-private room, nursing care, medications required during hospitalization, meals, other hospital services and supplies needed for the provision of care. Care required for participation in scientific research studies and in-patient mental health care are also covered by Part A.
  • Skilled Nursing Care – If a patient covered by Medicare is hospitalized for at least three days (midnights), they are eligible for up to 100 days of coverage at a skilled nursing and/or rehabilitation facility. Covered services include a semi-private room, skilled nursing care, therapies including physical, occupational and speech, other services and supplies.
  • Home Health Care Services – Medically necessary, intermittent (not full-time) home health care services are covered by Part A. Covered services include skilled nursing care, physical, occupational and/or speech therapies, home health aides, durable medical supplies and medical social services.
  • Hospice Services – For those with a terminal diagnosis and less than six months to live (per a certified physician), Part A covers hospice services. Coverage includes nursing care, medical services, medications specific to the terminal illness and/or those used for comfort measures, and grief counseling for family members not usually covered by Medicare.

Medicare Part B


Part B provides medical insurance and requires a monthly premium of approximately $96.40 in 2011. The decision whether or not to participate in Medicare Part B must be made during a seven-month window that begins three months prior to turning 65. There is also a General Enrollment period from January 1st to March 31st of each year.

Services covered under Part B include outpatient hospital stays, physician’s services, blood and other laboratory services, and outpatient therapies that are not covered under Part A. Preventive services including a one-time “Welcome to Medicare” physical exam, flu shots, diabetes screenings, mammograms and cardiovascular screenings are also covered by Part B.

Medicare Parts C & D

Part C refers to Medicare Advantage Plans, which are offered by Medicare-approved HMOs or PPOs. The plans include Medicare Parts A & B and often include a prescription-drug plan (Medicare Part D) as well. The deductibles and premiums vary depending on the organization and benefits beyond those covered by Medicare are frequently included in such plans.

Part D provides prescription-drug coverage to Medicare recipients and various plans are offered by Medicare-approved insurance companies, HMOs and PPOs.

For more information about Medicare coverage and eligibility requirements, please visit the official website at

Written by gerontologist Sara Shelton.

Senior Advisor

We've Found 268 Facilities Near 98155.

Request a free consultation:

  • Get personalized guidance from a dedicated local advisor
  • Save time with an easy-to-understand breakdown of services and fees.
  • Our service is 100% free to use - no hidden costs.

By submitting this form, you agree to's Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Agreement to be Contacted by Telephone.

Thank You!

A Family Advisor will contact you to help you do your search for you!

Our service is completely free to you.

Speak to an Advisor Now

Tap to Call Us 1-800-748-4024